Effective immediately, a ban on genetically-modified corn in Mexico has gone into action only days after thousands took to the streets in cities worldwide to protest against Monsanto and the GMO industry.
Companies such as Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their genetically modified corn within the country’s borders, a Mexican judge ruled last week.
The decision, which came nearly two years after the Mexican government put Monsanto’s GE corn on hold, citing the need for more tests, makes Mexico a leading player in the global battle against genetically modified organisms.
According to Environmental Food and Justice, Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo J. of the Twelfth Federal District Court for Civil Matters of Mexico City ruled that the genetically engineered corn posed ”the risk of imminent harm to the environment.”
He also ordered Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), which is equivalent to the U.S. EPA, to immediately “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings.”
The ruling means Monsanto and other biotech companies must halt all activity in the country while collective action lawsuits initiated by citizens, farmers, scientists and other concerned parties work their way through the judicial system.
According to a local press release, the group Acción Colectiva, or Collective Action — which is led by Father Miguel Concha of the Human Rights Center Fray Francisco de Vittoria — aims to achieve an absolute federal declaration of the suspension of transgenic maize in all its forms, including experimental and pilot commercial plantings in the country considered “the birthplace of corn in the world.”
Rene Sanchez Galindo, the legal council for Acción Colectiva in the lawsuit, said the ruling by Judge Eduardo Verdugo “constitutes a milestone in the long struggle of citizen demands for a GMO-free country.”
Galindo added that the ruling “has serious enforcement provisions and includes the possibility of criminal charges for the authorities responsible for allowing the introduction of transgenic corn in Mexico.”
Rallies occurred in over 500 cities worldwide against GMOs in mid-October, and in San Francisco, Mexican activists came out in force to show their disgust for the way companies like Monsanto have dominated the market and pushed aside local farmers in favor of “big business.”
“I think what is happening is the beginning of a new way of thinking where people are able to show their concern for change,” said Oscar Hernandez, a Mexican former migrant worker who is now waiting for his green card. Hernandez had participated in the mass demonstration against Monsanto near the Golden Gate Bridge.
“This is a war that we have to win, and Mexico is showing that it can be a leader despite the misconceptions about the country,” he told Occupy.com. “This is true activism and I am proud to be a part of it.”
An official from Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, who was not authorized to give his name, told Occupy.com that the global movement against GMOs which has erupted in the past year was a major catalyst driving the ruling to ban GMO corn in the country.
“We believe in listening to the people and they are speaking loud and clear that they do not want GMOs on their plate, so this is a decision that will be supported by the people,” said the official.